It is often said that last does not mean least, but we can reverse that role for the LifeView The Beaten Fly DVB-T Duo. It is not that it is a bad card, but straight from the off it was clear the product was not in the same class as the AVerTV.
Where did it go wrong? Well, it starts in the specs. Like the AVerMedia model, the Fly can display both analogue and digital signals, tune in to radio and support Media Centre 2005, but it isn’t HDTV ready and audio is stereo rather than six channel. Physically, it is also much heftier than the AVerTV, with the exposed end of the card being nearly 50 per cent taller. Then there was the software…
From the start I had problems with the installation. There were error messages left, right and centre. A later version of the software from the manufacturer’s website eventually got things going, but have a surf around a few TV Card forums and you’ll see I’m not alone in my frustrations. In fact, many members recommend using generic drivers just to get the Fly running and if you run into the infamous “lvcapture.dll” error (thankfully, I didn’t) there are whole stickys devoted to that.
Anyway, one battle over (I reluctantly had to accept the “US English” language as the only “English” option. The description of which has always struck me as an oxymoron) and I was in. It was at this point things became really irritating. You see, the Fly makes a low pitched but grating electronic whine in operation. Not just at start up, not after some heavy use, all the time, first minute to last and it slowly drove me nuts. It was the nail in the coffin for this card and I had yet to configure my channels.
All of which was rather a shame, but once I had completed this rigmarole I was pleasantly surprised at the sharp picture quality and strong reception. Certainly, it was the equal of the AVerTV in this respect. Also, while I can’t say the LifeView control console is the most elegant in the world (it looks something like a freeware version of Windows Media Player) it is clearly labelled and (since I escaped the “lvcapture.dll” error) worked well.
The remote, EPG and time shifting (also lacking Mpeg4 when recording digital) all came up to scratch and audio quality was adequate for something only putting out stereo. In addition, one area where it does win over the AVerTV is its PIP (Picture In Picture) and POP (Picture out of Picture) modes. Whereas the AVerMedia card can cycle through a nice 16 screen channel preview this amounts to nothing more than showing a brief channel clip in a small area of the screen, freezing it, lining up the next clip alongside it and repeating the process. With the Fly you get real time, square eyes creating duality.
As for the toll on the laptop battery, it was slightly greater than the AVerTV. Processor use was similar at around 40 per cent, but I calculated about a 20 to 25 per cent drop off in battery life.
LifeView’s TV Card simply has too many troubles for me to recommend it. The dodgy drivers could be fixed with a software upgrade, but the larger size, excruciating noise (it actually gave me a headache after any more than 30 minutes), and inferior specs mean its crashes and burns.